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Issue 01/2016

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Automotive Foam Basics: Public Procurement

Basics “The biobased

Basics “The biobased office” for the procurement of the future The German Agency for Renewable Resources promotes a viable sustainable procurement. German law lacks a legal basis for sustainable public procurement. Legislation requiring resource and environmental considerations to be taken into account when purchasing goods and services for the public sector has not yet been put in place. Hence, the implementation of sustainable public procurement in Germany has been patchy in many aspects, a fact that is also reflected in the development of a recognized environmental label. It would therefore be helpful first to formulate significant sustainability criteria and thus to gain experience with public procurement and, at the same time, to gradually develop a sustainable procurement culture. That would also give producers the opportunity to adopt a goaloriented perspective. However, many public authorities are struggling with such an approach. Clearly, sustainable procurement is a new approach – and it is one that involves more effort, as information will have to be collected, old and familiar procurement habits abandoned and market availability studied. However, the single most important reason for the slow progress in this area is the lack of encouragement and support from decision makers. Of course there are good examples as well, such as that of Berlin. Berlin not only has administrative regulations providing for the implementation of environmental protection requirements in the procurement of goods, works and services [1], but has also developed specific minimum requirements for many product groups, which serve as practical procurement guides. Another positive sign was the recent publication from the Öko-Institute of a study showing the financial savings and environmental benefits potentially resulting from the implementation of environmentally-friendly procurement processes. The Agency for Renewable Resources (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe, FNR) also encourages environmentally friendly procurement. On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL), a project called the “Use of biobased products in public procurement” was established at the FNR in 2010. The project aims to promote environmental and natural resource stewardship, as well as to enhance the security of the resource supply by fostering the use of biobased products. Public institutions, in their role as pioneers, could leverage their purchasing The bio-based office 34 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/16] Vol. 11

Basics power to further advance the use of biobased products. This commitment to biobased products is also reflected in the EUfinanced projects of the FNR. The biobased office The FNR project entitled “Use of biobased products in public procurement” is currently touring Germany with a model of a biobased office serving as an exhibition booth. Tour schedule: http://www.das-nachwachsende-buero.de/service/tourenplan/ The booth showcases the products with which a biobased, environmentally-friendly office setting can be created. Given the 17 million office workspaces in Germany alone, the use of biobased office products offers enormous potential for a reduction of CO 2 emissions. Nearly 100 biobased products, ranging from office furniture to office design and furnishings can be viewed and touched at the fully accessible, 12 m 2 exhibition booth. The selection of bioplastic products featured have been made available by a variety of companies, both large and small. The entire range of products featured in the exhibition booth, and the companies producing these, are listed in a complimentary brochure, but can also be found on: www.das-nachwachsende-buero.de. Sustainability in procurement law and procurement processes of biobased products Plastics play a major role in office equipment. In addition to a growing use of recycled plastic materials, products made from biobased materials are also on the rise. According to public procurement law, it may be necessary to substantiate and submit proof of the sustainability claims of biobased plastics (e.g. the environmental benefits of the product). Implementation of the European public procurement directives will require an overhaul of public procurement law and the strengthening of sustainable and innovative procurement practices. Following the incorporation of these directives into German law in April 2016, it should be easier for public procurers to write tenders with sustainable (environmental, social and innovative) requirements, which relate to: • the terms of references / technical specifications • the qualification / selection criteria • the contract / award criteria • requirements for the implementation of a contract as long as there is an objective connection with the contract at hand. Proof of the required properties can be provided by an overall reference to a recognized label or certificate. Moreover, e-procurement will be the standard procedure. However, for the heterogeneous group of manufacturers of biobased products – mainly made up of SMEs – such certifications and e-procurement requirements pose a serious impediment to doing business with public procurers. Another problem is the wide use of framework agreements, which make it difficult for SMEs to participate. Hence, SMEs are more likely to opt for direct award procedures with volumes below the € 10.000 threshold. With sales figures like these, however, no real market breakthrough, of the kind envisioned by the “bioeconomy” policy strategy, is possible. By: Monika Missalla-Steinmann Public relations officer Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR) Gülzow, Germany Office materials made of biobased plastic bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/16] Vol. 11 35

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